Marcfirst is a program that connects families and people with developmental disabilities to their community through a multitude of ways. The program works toward creating a community that encourages and accepts all people, with all abilities. Their vision is to become a bridge to the community, allowing all people to pursue and achieve their dreams throughout their lives. The principles and values of the organization have shone bright through their partnership with Illinois State’s University Galleries, as they participated in making art for expression and communication.
Marc Making: Over the last four months, artists from Marcfirst created paintings, drawings, and other art through workshops held on Saturdays that coordinated with the gallery’s rotating exhibition schedule.
Jason Judd, a senior curator at University Galleries, answered a few questions regarding the partnership with Marcfirst.
Q: How has the Bloomington-Normal community been impacted by the Marcfirst and University Galleries partnership?
A: I think the impact will unfold over the course of the exhibition. Even though the artists have made artwork within the gallery over the last four months, the community visiting the gallery will be able to see the complete picture of the program and collaboration. It is our hope, that through this collaboration the Bloomington-Normal community will be more aware of Marcfirst, and furthermore, the participating artists will have an opportunity to show, and sometimes sell, the artwork that they have made so diligently.
Q: Are there any success stories that you would like to share from the collaboration?
A: The success story is seeing the pride, excitement, and fulfillment in each of the artists during the opening reception. Each and every one of the artists pushed certain personal boundaries throughout the workshops, whether it be conceptual, physical, mental, or possibly emotional.
Q: How did working with the arts affect the participants?
A: Making art gives the participants an alternative way to communicate. Some may have difficulty communicating verbally or emotionally, but through brushstrokes, creating representations, molding clay, and so on, the artists may find a new avenue to express something within themselves. Art is about expression, but more importantly, communication.
Q: What specifically was the direction given for the art they have been producing?
A: Marc Making Coordinator Iga Puchalska, provided a careful level of guidance through each workshop, which turned each session into less of a “craft workshop” and more of an “artist open studio” where each artist can depend on their own skills and ideas to create artwork.
Q: How can those in the Bloomington-Normal community get involved? ISU students specifically?
A: Volunteer! Always volunteer. If anyone has any interest in supporting Marc Making they can contact Marcfirst or University Galleries.
Read more about the exhibition and view a video highlighting some of the Marcfirst artists on the University Galleries website.
Mark Making: Artist of Marcfirst will run through August 9, 2017 and is free and open to the public. ISU faculty, staff, and students interested in learning more about Marcfirst or in volunteering with the program can contact the organization through their website. Follow Marcfirst and the Mark Making artists on Facebook.